May 7, 2020
As a consultant, I like to focus on the context that I’m dealing with. If you can shift something positively in how the day and work occurs for you, such as creating space, the actions tend to ‘fall out’ naturally from that new context. In the last few days of COVID’s new normal, I have been seeing my day differently. By being really intentional on my days being productive and complete, I have done some surprising things. This morning I made oatmeal cakes from scratch before starting work – and I have never baked a biscuit ever before. They do taste pretty good…
There once was a worker whose primary tool was his brain, whose workday was governed by something called ‘The Outlook Calendar’. This calendar was a thing of beauty - multiple displays, multiple colors, multiple options - where this worker could store all of his promises, to himself and to others. Truly a powerful place to maintain his integrity in delivering results for the business.
And yet. And yet. He kept finding himself getting less and less productive as each day progressed, always slipping ‘behind’, trying to ‘catch up’, feeling anxious that something will ‘fall through the cracks’.
What he didn’t know about was the ‘Mountain of Incompletions’ and the ‘Tyranny of the Back-to-Back Meetings’ and how much they affected him.
Incompletions are the main source of frustration, anxiety, worry. Unconsciously he was adding to the ‘Mountain of Incompletions’ during every meeting – actions promised, actions not promised (but should have), suggestions offered, suggestions not offered; thoughts that passed through his head that returned again later, and again later and again later; interruptions from the household, the how-bouts, what-ifs, should’ves, etc., etc., etc. - very little of which he put into existence during the meeting. He thinks to himself, “I’ll handle that at the end of the meeting, before the next one starts,” but what’s this?
This Meeting Finishes at the Same Time the Next Meeting Starts, and so does the next one and the next one and the next one after that. “I’ll handle it at the end of the day,” he thinks and then he’s forgotten half of what happened in the morning, and then the family, the self-care, the food, the getting rest, the news. He thinks, “I’ll do it in the morning”… And repeat.
The moral of the story: We work with our brains and our brains need as much support as anything else, if not more. Please Make the promises (meetings and actions.) you have in ‘The Outlook Calendar’ reflect how the day ALWAYS goes and create space between meetings for handling and processing. If you don’t have anything to handle and process in this space, feel free to pull something else forward from later in the day, giving you the experience of being ‘ahead of the day’.
When he took this on, he quickly found himself calmer, more centered, and more able to respond, and as a result, was reducing the Mountain of Incompletions and the burden that came with it. Joy.
Our valiant worker had started to create space between meetings by asking others to adjust their meeting requests, and adjusting the requests he made of others. He was adding more of the things that make a difference to his day – taking ground on something important BEFORE processing email at the start of the day, focusing on the critical. He was starting to build the muscle of ‘making my calendar work for me’ and experiencing daily accomplishment.
And with anything worthwhile, he was finding that some discipline was needed to avoid the ‘Lure of the Instant Gratification’ – being the expert all day, being able to say how busy he was, not pushing back when pushing back was needed, being on more Teams’ teams than anyone else. He was enjoying the reward of tackling his hard-won, automatic habits.
He was determined to avoid falling back into a previous time – the ‘Tyranny of the Back-to-Back Meetings’ and the ‘Mountain of Incompletions.’ He resolved that before he finished each day, he would make sure that the next day was set up powerfully – a day that would be a win for him and those counting on him. When he got good at this, he started looking beyond the next day to the following days. Rewarding.
Wishing you days ahead that are joyful AND rewarding.
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